kumquat marmalade + pistachio linzertorte

kumquat marmalade + pistachio linzertorte

We just had an alarm system installed out here in the woods, in the compound that I work at. It’s not what you may think. It’s not to deter burglars, although as it turns out it deters everyone, so, burglars included. The alarm system is set up to detect fires, high levels of hydrogen, low temperatures, and power outages.

This is all part of an elaborate scheme to bring solar power into the woods. It’s a delicate mix of inverters running off the batteries that are fueled by the solar cells, along with two different generators that serve our energy needs during daily peaks and energy-demanding activities such as welding.

Anyway, the system is now sort of functional, and it’s shaping up to be an awesome step forwards for this community in the middle of nowhere. But the most recent item of business, adding in an alarm system as a safeguard, has put everyone on edge since it went live last week. On one peaceful sunny evening last week, I was enjoying the nice weather when suddenly a cop car siren went off at a volume so loud that I jumped a good 2.5 inches out of my shoes. It would be prudent to note here that our compound is located hours away from any paved roads, and no cop cars would ever dream of venturing this far into the woods. To top it off, the noise sounded like it was coming from the lake.

Turns out it was the alarm system siren (pronounced sy-reen all distinguished-like by the electricians). They were choosing a ringtone.

kumquat marmalade + pistachio linzertorte

Since then, things have escalated. Another point of interest to note is that whenever we switch over to the generator, there is a 1-minute delay when we have no power. This happens several times a day, but is nothing out of the ordinary for us. However, the alarm system has been programmed, as I mentioned, to detect power outages. So now every time that we switch to the generators, the sy-reen goes off. I think that the system has developed some sort of evil brain, because weird things have been happening with the generators since the electricians’ visit last week. The power went out at least eight times yesterday. That means the loud-ass sy-reen went off at least eight times yesterday. The sy-reen has also been sounding during the middle of the night. In a measure of good faith, the electricians have limited the sy-reen‘s duration to a few minutes, down from the recommended 15 MINUTES. Thanks guys.

We have some electronic keypads that tell us what sort of alarm is sounding. Like last week, an alarm went off because there was low temperature in a small shed that has no water or power and is uninhabited. Good to know.

And this morning, I’m being told by the keypad that we are currently suffering from…. a fire.

kumquat marmalade

A couple weeks ago, I made this fire-colored kumquat marmalade. Someone sound the sy-reen please.

Did you ever eat those SOUR SOUR SOUR SUPERSOUR sweeeeet Warheads candies? Kumquats are like nature’s equivalent to Warheads, a definite mouth party. How I have never before eaten kumquats is beyond me. Now I’m popping them like a bad addiction, and I’m slipping a few to my loggers – “oh hey, you like citrus? here, try this!” I offer, before quickly taking a few steps back just in case.

The next logical step, aside from slathering my marmalade over every glutenous surface known to man, was to pair it with my perennial favorite nut, pistachios, combining the two into a delightful variation on a linzertorte.

kumquat marmalade + pistachio linzertorte

Kumquat Marmalade + Pistachio Linzertorte

Recipe adapted from Maida Heatter and Smitten Kitchen

Yield: One 9-inch round or 8-inch square torte, sooo…. 8 wedges or 16 bars.

For the Kumquat Marmalade:

I used David Lebovitz’s recipe for Kumquat Marmalade, and the only change I made was to use three Meyer lemons in place of the recommended 2 lemons. I couldn’t write the instructions any better than he did, so follow his. Make sure you start a day ahead of time, since the citrus needs to soak overnight.

For the Linzertorte:

Base and Lattice
2 1/2 c. pistachios
1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
10 tbsp cold, unsalted butter, cut into chunks
Heaping 3/4 c. sugar
1 egg
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon (I used a Meyer)

Make base: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter 9-inch round layer cake pan or 8-inch square pan. Line the bottom of each with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit, then butter then paper.

In a food processor, process pistachios and 1/4 c. of flour (reserve remaining flour) until the nuts are finely ground but not pasty.

Place remaining 1 1/4 c. flour, cinnamon, and salt in a large mixing bowl. With a pastry blender, add the butter into the flour mixture until it forms crumbs. Mix in the sugar. In a small bowl, beat the egg and lemon zest until combined, then stir into flour mixture until well-mixed. Work the dough inside the bowl until a cohesive ball forms.

Divide dough into halves.

Place half the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan, and press evenly and firmly over the bottoms, flouring fingers if necessary. Press dough up the sides of the pan 1 1/2″.

Bake shell for 10-15 minutes, until it barely begins to color at the edges. Remove shell from oven and let cool slightly. Reduce oven to 325F.

While the shell bakes, roll remaining piece of dough between two pieces of waxed paper or parchment paper, until 1/4″- to 3/8″ in thickness or just a bit larger than the size of the pan. Transfer to freezer on a baking sheet until the dough is well-chilled, about 20 minutes.

Filling
3 tbsp panko or fine, dry breadcrumbs
1 heeeeaping c. kumquat marmalade

Make filling: Remove chilled dough from freezer.

Pulse panko or coarse dry breadcrumb in a food processor until a fine powder. Sprinkle panko or breadcrumbs over par-baked shell. If jam is not soft, stir it until it is, then spread over breadcrumbs.

Cut dough into 1/2″- 3/4″ strips, cutting through the bottom of the waxed paper at the same time if you want to make dough transfer simple (I didn’t do this). Lift each strip over the jam and reverse it onto the jam before peeling off the waxed paper. Arrange strips 1/2″ to 3/4″ apart, crisscrossing them (if desired, I didn’t do this either) on an angle to make a lattice top with diamond-shaped openings. Use leftover pieces to fill in any gaps between lattice-strips and tall sides of shells. Excess lengths can be added to the tall sides and gently pressed into place.

Topping
1 egg yolk
1 tsp water
Powdered sugar, for serving

Mix egg yolks and water. Brush it all over lattice top and border. Bake torte for 45 to 60 minutes, until crust is well-browned.

Remove from oven and place on cooling rack. Cool for ten to fifteen minutes in the pan, before loosening and removing. Allow to fully cool on a cooling rack. When cool, serve immediately, or let the linzertorte stand overnight (covered in foil) before serving for full flavor development. Decorate with powdered sugar before serving if desired.

beata

We caught Beata snoozing at a perfect 90 degree angle. Such a little right triangle. Be still my beating heart oh gosh.

She knows not the joys of marmalade and linzertorte, but she doesn’t need to, because she has fur and whiskers and ears and those darling legs.

pistachio pudding shortbread + rosewater caramel slice

pistachio custard shortbread + rosewater caramel slice

Well, we’ve moved again. I feel like I’m always moving. This is partly because I actually am in constant transit, living out of a cabin during the week, traveling frequently on the weekends, and only seeing my ‘home’ a handful of days each month. On those brief occasions when I have time to zen out in my kitchen, I hope for the best. And this past weekend, right before the spectacle that we call moving house commenced, I zenned myself this delicious four-sticks-of-butter dessert.

This was an idea that sparked into existence after reading about Mary’s pretty Nanaimo Bars last week. She had me thinking about pudding. Thinking about pudding begat a shimmery remembrance of the perennially-delicious Custard Shortbread made with Bird’s Custard Powder. Thinking about a product I no longer have easy access to led me to see what was available to me in the baking aisle. Hence, realization dawned upon me that I could make delicious shortbread with any kind of pudding known to man.

So, duh, I chose to light up my soggy moving weekend with an electric green Pistachio Pudding Shortbread.

pistachio custard shortbread + rosewater caramel slice

But this slice, already off to a roaring neon start, was destined for additional greatness. As I peered into a fridge filled with things to be used up or thrown out, this recipe with only two sticks of butter in it seemed somehow unfinished.

A caramel sauce, made to harden in the fridge, and yet soften nicely when brought to room temperature, was flavored with rosewater – the perfect and classic pistachio pairing.

Could it get any tastier? I believe not, because lordy, I am smitten. Smitten with this incredible treat, which is as versatile as it is pretty. A quick dessert, a workday snack, an easily portioned-out eye-catching party dish. This shortbread touches all the bases.

Pistachio Pudding Shortbread + Rosewater Caramel Slice {recipe by myself}

Makes one 8″ x 8″ pan (16 large, 20 medium slices)

For the shortbread:

16 tbsp (two sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1 package pistachio pudding powder
1/4 c. powdered sugar
1/4 c. sugar
2 c. flour
3/4 tsp salt

Combine butter and pudding powder in a large bowl and mix well. Add in sugars and salt, mix to combine.

Sift flour into mixture in two batches, mixing well. Press into an 8 x 8″ cake pan. No need to score shortbread ahead of time, but prick all over with a fork or chopstick.

Bake at 350 F for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown around the edges and set in the middle. Cool in tin ten minutes before pouring caramel on top.

For the caramel:

1 cup butter (2 sticks)
1/3 c. sugar
1 1/3 c. packed brown sugar
2/3 c. corn syrup
1 tsp salt
1/3 c. heavy cream
2+ tsp rosewater

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine all ingredients except rosewater. Cook over high heat (stirring is not necessary) until caramel reaches the hard ball candy stage, or 250 F. Remove from heat, and allow to cool five to ten minutes. Mix in rosewater to taste – if you add the rosewater when the mixture is still very hot, the flavor of rosewater will disappear.

Pour slightly cooled mixture onto shortbread. Place in the refrigerator (with a hot pad underneath initially) and chill at least two hours. Cover the slice with plastic wrap if desired.

To serve, remove from refrigerator 20-30 minutes prior to serving, or microwave for ten to fifteen seconds. So delicious.

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Speaking of delicious, we made some French toast out of croissants sliced in half during a few minutes of moving downtime on Memorial Day. And by we, I mean my boyfriend made them while I laid on the floor and squeezed in some serious cat time. She’s so cute!

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Let me know if this post looks funky. Suffice it to say (and I’m an excellent sufficer), it’s been an insane week. I’m finishing this post up on my phone from the NY LaGuardia airport. Hence, I have no clue what it will really look like.

Vacay, here we come!

blueberry ginger toffee bars

Did you think I was finished with blueberry recipes? Hoho, how wrong you were. There is a strong likelihood that I will never be finished with blueberry recipes.

These Blueberry Ginger Toffee Bars consist of a ginger- and cinnamon-flaved bar cookie base, a hearty layer of fresh blueberries, and a topping of golden brown toffee, infused with a hint of ginger.

They combine everything I love (blueberries, caramelly toffee) with a few things that I feel iffy about (ginger, the word ‘bars’). A stellar combination, really.

Previously frozen juicy blueberries are flash cooked by the toffee, which is poured hot off the stovetop. After cooling, the toffee hardens somewhat – cracking in places – but remains softly chewy and easy to eat. The blueberries retain their plump freshness, while permeating sweetly into the surrounding toffee and bar cookie layers.

Ginger and blueberry are a perfect pairing. I was inspired by the blueberry ginger kombucha I’ve been making recently, which sadly may have come to a temporary end as I believe I once again killed my scobys (scobies?). In my defense, I’ve been busy.

Busy.

In the past week, I have inspected a boatload of potatoes, watched an entire season of Gossip Girl, built a light box for my photographic endeavors, and shed a tear over my garden’s slow frosty death. Also, I explored an abandoned plane. I’ll talk more about that soon.

I have one remaining week as a Potato Inspector, and I plan to enjoy it to the fullest. Being outside every day has inspired me to document my sights more thoroughly in pictures. Here are a few of the shots I’ve captured within the past week.

From top: A harvested potato field littered with forgotten tubers, a dew-filled dandelion on a chilly morning, foggy tractor days, a potentially-abandoned building as seen through my sunglasses, and The Amish.

The best part of this potato job has been getting to drive on unfrequented back roads and catch glimpses of the many nearby Amish settlements. Like this corn-filled wagon that pulled out in front of me kind of crazy-like.

I have become Amish obsessed. I want to talk with them. I want to befriend them. I want to be them. …for maybe a week. I am completely serious about this. I talk about them almost every day now.

An Amish person waved at me the other week. As I was driving my sinfully-modern vee-hic-kel, I might add.

Blueberry Ginger Toffee Bars
{Recipe by myself, toffee adapted from Joy of Cooking}

For the bar cookie layer:

1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs
1 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 c. flour

Preheat oven to 375 F. In a large bowl, cream butter with sugars, ginger and cinnamon. Add eggs and almond extract, and mix well. Add salt, baking soda, and flour, and mix until combined.

Grease an 8 x 8″ pan to create tall bar cookies as seen here. Alternately, use a somewhat larger pan, such as 8 x 10″. Pat mixture into pan, and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until cooked through in the center and lightly golden around the edges. Remove from oven, and set on a cooling rack.

For the blueberry-toffee layer:

1 2/3 c. granulated sugar
2 large pinches cream of tartar
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 c. heavy cream
1 stick (1/2 c.) butter
2 c. frozen blueberries

In a large saucepan, combine sugar, cream of tartar, ginger and heavy cream. Bring to a boil, and cook, whisking frequently, for 2 to 3 minutes. Add in butter, and cook, whisking often, until mixture reaches the soft-crack stage on a candy thermometer (note: toffee is typically cooked to the hard-crack stage. Removing the mixture from the heat sooner allows the final product to be more chewy, and easier to enjoy in this bar cookie fashion). Remove from heat.

Pour blueberries over cooled tin of bar cookies. Immediately pour toffee on top, allowing it to thoroughly coat the blueberries. Cool (in the fridge if the desired). Cut into squares before toffee is fully hardened to prevent surface from cracking.

Keep well-wrapped in the fridge for up to 3 days.